Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bargain Shopping

Ross Ohlendorf pitched into the seventh inning against NL-Wild Card contender Colorado Tuesday night to earn his 10th win of the year. His record is now 10-8, a winning percentage of .556, for a Pittsburgh Pirates team that is 46-67, a .407 winning percentage.

If you factor out his decisions, the Pirates drop to 36-59, a .379 winning percentage.

Ohlendorf's numbers are actually improving as the season goes on. Prior to the All-Star break, he was 7-7 with a 4.64 ERA; since then he is 3-1 with a 3.07.

In his last six starts, he has three wins while leaving another game with the lead, only to have the bullpen give it away. He has not allowed more than three runs in any of those three starts.

He is now one of 38 pitchers in Major League Baseball (21 in the National League, 17 in the American League) who is in double figures in victories, and he is only four wins away from being tied for the Major League lead. Considering there are 30 teams with five starters each, he's doing pretty well, especially considering this is his first full season as a starter.

Beyond that, he is pitching for the woeful Pirates, who rank 26th in Major League Baseball in runs scored, nearly 200 runs behind the No. 1 Yankees (TigerBlog's least favorite team, in the interest of full disclosure).

Of the 38 pitchers with at least 10 wins, a total of 11 pitch for teams with losing records. Of those 11, only four pitch for teams at least 10 games below .500: Ohlendorf, Dan Haren of Arizona, Bronson Arroyo of Cinncinati and Zach Greinke of Kansas City.

TigerBlog has argued in the past that the Yankees made a mistake when they gave up on Ohlendorf a year ago, trading him to the Pirates for reliever Damaso Marte and outfielder Xavier Nady, two players who have not contributed to the Yankees this year and are currently out for the season.

If the Yankees had moved Ohlendorf into their rotation, they could have kept Joba Chamberlain in the bullpen.

Ohlendorf is tied with high-priced Yankee free agent A.J. Burnett with 10 wins, and he is only two wins behind the other big dollar free agent the Yanks signed last off-season, C.C. Sabathia.

Want to compare their 2009 salaries? Okay:

Burnett - $16,000,000
Sabathia - $15,285,714
Ohlendorf - $413,500.

Now, you can say that Ohlendorf pitches with no pressure on him because he's on the Pirates, as opposed to the spotlight that would be shining on him if he pitched in the rotation in the new Yankee Stadium. On the other hand, you can say that there's more pressure pitching for the Pirates, since he's a young pitcher trying to establish himself as a legitimate Major Leaguer knowing that any mistake he makes is unlikely to be erased by back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the inning or by a lineup with all-stars at every position.

Either way, Ohlendorf is proving to among the best bargains in baseball this season. And TigerBlog again is saying that the fact that Yankees gave up on Ohlendorf is going to come back to haunt them this October in a seventh or eighth inning that Chamberlain isn't pitching.

Or maybe it's just wishful thinking.

No comments: